They say there is only one certainty in life, and that is death. The inevitable conclusion of our time here on earth is cause for concern for a lot of people. Are you ready, did you achieve everything you wanted to, did you live enough? These are questions common to most people.
However, Thanotophobia causes a person to obsessively think and stress about death, to the point that their fear becomes all consuming. Derived from Thanatos – the Greek figure of death – Thanotophobia can quickly become one of the most debilitating fears, having a huge effect on private, social and working life.
Frequently leading to other phobias, and often linked to various mental disorders, it’s a particularly grim phobia, mostly affecting people between their late 20’s and early 50’s. It can soon spiral out of control, and if untreated may lead to a life of extreme anxiety and regret.
So, is it possible to rid yourself of the fear of death?
CAUSES OF THANOTOPHOBIA
There are countless theories concerning Thanotophobia. Evolutionary psychologists look to the basic survival instincts common to all living creatures and organisms. Receptors, evolved over thousands of years to react to danger, work alongside self-preservation mechanisms, designed to ensure our survival. It is argued that in some individuals, these receptors and response mechanisms may be unbalanced, seeing danger where there is none.
Other theories look at more personal experiences, such as traumatic events. Having witnessed the painful, drawn out death of a loved one, or going through a near death experience yourself are just two scenarios that could lead to Thanotophobia.
News reports, movies and the internet, often suggest that a horrific death is around every corner. Sufferers may also learn to fear death from a parent. Having witnessed an extreme reaction to death as a child, it’s only natural to develop a fear.
In older sufferers, it may be a lack of fulfillment in life, which can lead to depression as well as Thanotophobia. Religion may also play a role, with people terrified that they may spend the rest of eternity being tormented by demons.
Possibly, it is simply the fear of the unknown. Death is the one thing no one can really describe. What happens afterwards is a mystery, until it happens.
SYMPTOMS OF THANOTOPHOBIA
The symptoms attributed to Thanotophobia frequently start of like many other fears, with panic attacks at anything that may trigger feelings of impending death, or even the mere thought of it. This involves an increased heartbeat, nausea, dizziness, sweating, hot or cold flushes and even crying.
However, over time it can develop into far worse mental and physical conditions. Things that may trigger your fear can become more widespread, resulting in a reluctance to ever put yourself in danger. This can lead to isolation, missing out on events and depression. In turn, every aspect of life can be impacted, with the fight or flight response activating in any situation in which your potential death is perceived.
Hypochondria is often linked to Thanotophobia, as well as ADHD, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and many other forms of anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, there are several ways to overcome your fear of death, allowing you to move on and enjoy life. Hypnotherapy allows the therapist to connect to your unconscious mind. In this way they are able to see where your fear stems from, and subliminally make positive suggestions as to how to overcome it.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming works in a similar way, without the hypnotism. By utilizing talk therapy and observing the language (spoken and visible) you use, the therapist is able to help you reprogram your mind, and the way you view death. Positive affirmations help, and there are several self-help exercises you can complete at home.
Relaxation techniques can also be learnt, to help you deal with your anxiety attacks better. Used in conjunction with exposure therapy, you will begin to confront your fear of death, until you are able to think and talk about it without intense fear.
In today’s digital world, there are even apps or audio therapy sessions such as subliminals you can download to help rid you of your phobia.
BENEFITS OF OVERCOMING FEAR OF DEATH
Thanotophobia can affect every area of your life, bringing it to a grinding halt. It can lead to a life lived in constant fear, with sufferers avoiding situations, certain foods and even contact with other people. By overcoming your fear of death, the world suddenly becomes a far less scary place. You will begin to see positives, rather than death around every corner.
Even mild cases should be dealt with, as you will find yourself spending a lot of time in a state of anxiety. By dealing with it early, you reduce the risk of it getting out of hand, and leading to other phobias and illnesses. With your fear overcome, you can live a life free from regret.